Mentor Training Course COURSERA

Mentor Responsibilities and Expectations

  • Report serious problems to Coursera team.
  • Spend roughly 3 hours per week supporting the learner community for at least 3 months.
  • Interact thoughtfully, constructively, and respectfully with fellow Mentors, students, and the Coursera team.
  • If as a mentor you need some time off, please email the Coursera team at community-team@coursera.org
  • Respond to learners' questions. General questions may fall in these categories: Questions about the course content, problems with the course (direct learners to the Help Center), and questions or problems with the Coursera platform.(Direct learners to the Help Center)
  • Welcome and encourage learners to participate.
  • Post questions and discussion prompts to encourage learners participation and deeply thinking on the subject matter.
  • You are mentoring for all sessions of the course, for the length of time you remain a mentor.

Non-Expectations

  • To handle extremely difficult learners or situations
  • Provide technical support for the Coursera platform
  • It is optional for you to provide an email address if you want to, Coursera recommends setting up a separate address specifically for mentoring.
  • It is also optional for you to help with grading, You have access to the peer review queue in case you would like to help out, or in case an individual learner asks you for help, and you want to provide it. Just remember to allow students to do their own grading, so everyone has a chance.
  • You are not expected to provide additional support beyond forums, but if you do choose to run live video calls such as Google Hangouts, you are very welcome to do so.

Reporting Inappropriate Behavior

  • Contact the support team via the Help Center if you see:
  • Illegal activities - posting or distributing obscene or otherwise regulated material (e.g., illicit substances)
  • Hate speech - as defined by the State of California
  • Credible threats - threats that mention a specific time, place, and date
  • Harassment - abusive content directed against a private individual

Community Expectations and Guidelines for working with other mentors in the community

The main place to interact is the Discussion forum, also known as Mentor Portal in this training course. Once you become a mentor, you will have access to Coursera's mentor forum in the course you mentor. This is only accessible to mentors, teaching staff, and instructors. Coursera also hosts weekly video calls/hangouts to allow mentors to get to know each other a little better, meet each other face to face, and ask questions. There is also a community blog where Coursera posts interviews with other community members. There are also several resources, such as a FAQ,Updates & Known Issues forum. where Coursera posts news about new features or platform changes, and updates on any bugs or current problems. You can also find notes on Coursera's hangouts, and a newsletter which is sent out every week.

You can find support at: the mentor portal, the learner help center, the community team at community-team@coursera.org, and the suggestions&features requests forum. When posting in the Mentor Portal: Post positively, search and browse for content before posting, use emoji but please limit them to a few per post, and last consider having a professional picture on your profile. This will allow learners to see the face of the person replying. While working with other mentors always allow thread ownership and time for others to answer, and always communicate with other mentors; if you have a lot of time for mentoring, be mindful that others may have more limited times to participate.

Community Code of Conduct

  • Respect
  • Always treat anyone using Coursera or working for Coursera with respect.
  • Never use language intended to attack, accuse, insult, harass or abuse another person on Coursera.
  • Never use condescending or derogatory language.
  • Sensitivity and empathy should always be in your mind.
  • Never use any language which would be insensitive to someone based on race, culture, religion, health, gender, or sexuality.
  • Never use any language which may upset or inflame another person.
  • Problems and criticism
  • Avoid being negative. Constructive criticism is valued, unproductive negativity is not
  • When there are problems, please report them using the correct channels

Coursera Code of Conduct

  • As a learner on Coursera, you are part of one of the largest and most diverse learning communities in the world! Like most communities, the Coursera community has some basic ground rules:
  • Be polite.
  • Treat your fellow learners with respect.
  • Insulting, condescending, or abusive words will not be tolerated.
  • Do not harass other learners.
  • Polite debate is welcome as long as you are discussing the ideas, not attacking the person.
  • Be sensitive.
  • Remember that Coursera is a global forum with learners from many different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Be kind, thoughtful, and open-minded when discussing race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or controversial topics since others likely have differing perspectives.
  • Post appropriate content.
  • Content that violates the Honor Code or Terms of Service is not permitted.
  • You may not post inappropriate (e.g., pornographic or obscene) content.
  • Do not post copyrighted content.
  • Do not advertise or promote outside products or organizations.
  • Do not spam the forums with repetitive content.
  • Be aware that posts that violate this Code may be deleted or made invisible to other students by any forum moderator. Students who repeatedly break these rules may be removed from the course and/or may lose access to the Coursera site. Please note that deleting your Coursera account does not remove your work or forum posts from Coursera.
  • Report abuse If someone is violating the Code of Conduct, you can report them by contacting Coursera support.

Providing Feedback in a Constructive manner with a minimal risk of causing upset in return.

  • Start with something positive. This could be as simple as thanking them for their reply or for joining in on the discussion, or recognizing that they made a good point.
  • Focus on the way you interpreted the post, rather than the way they wrote it. If applicable, provide an example of another way they could have phrased their post.
  • Make it clear that you do not think they have done anything wrong and that you know they weren't trying to be offensive.
  • If you can, show that you relate to them in some way and have been misunderstood yourself in the past.
  • Finish with something positive. Perhaps an expression of how you enjoy working alongside them or hope to have more conversations.

Reporting Issues in the Mentor Community

  • To report a problem with a fellow Mentor please email community-team@coursera.org Issues include: Violations of this Community Code of Conduct and other issues. Also report mentors if there is an Inactive Mentor, a mentor giving incorrect information information, and a mentor writing inappropriate posts.
  • Use the Help Center to report when a learner is violating the Code of Conduct, if there is a bug with Coursera, and if there is a problem with the course materials.

Sessions and Versions of this Training Course and any Coursera Course

  • A new session will start on a regular cycle, every 2-4 weeks (although some courses run less frequently)
  • A new version is only created when the instructor chooses.
  • A new version will only go live in conjunction with a new session.
  • Each version can (and usually will) include multiple session.
  • Once a new version has been published it remains the active version until a newer version is created.
  • If a course is running an A/B test there will be 2 or more versions active at the same time.
  • A learner who falls behind will be prompted to switch into a later session so they are once again working on the same part of the course as others in their session.
  • In courses with peer-reviewed assignments, learners will only see assignments from other learners in the same session. If the learner switches sessions, they will now see assignments from the learners in their new session.
  • Learners can access peer assignments from any session if provided with the direct URL.
  • Mentors can use the Course Manager tab to switch into any session they choose. This should only be necessary if the Mentor has lost access to assignments because the session they are in has ended. Mentors can switch into any currently active session to access assignments again, and if the Mentor wants to take a look at the course as it appears to the learner asking the questions.

Types of Peer Review System on Coursera

  • Learners can view and review others' assignments before they submit their own.
  • Learners cannot view or review others' work until they have submitted their own
  • Learners cannot view or review others' work until they have had their own work fully graded
  • Instructors can set the required number of reviews a learner needs to pass. The default is 3.
  • Learners who receive at least one review will get a grade for their assignment when the assignment deadline is reached.
  • If there are not enough ungraded assignments available for a learner to meet their review quota, learners will be shown graded assignments to review. Any reviews provided after the assignment has been graded will not count towards the learner's overall grade.

Moderator Tools

  • Moderation tools are not all available when using a mobile browser or the mobile app so we recommend using your desktop or laptop when mentoring.
  • Forum moderation tools will allow you to move, close, or pin a thread, and edit or delete an existing post. Closing a thread will prevent anyone else from leaving a response. Pinning a thread will make sure the thread always shows up first in the forums and also make it visible in all sessions within a particular version.
  • As a mentor, you have the ability to edit or delete someone else's post but please do use these tools with extreme caution. Edit a post - if a post has generally good content but perhaps some inappropriate or inflammatory language, or isn’t expressed very clearly, you can use the edit tool to clean it up. Make sure to edit as lightly as possible and be sensitive towards the original author’s feelings. Delete a post - if a post is purely inappropriate or would prove too difficult to edit effectively it can be deleted completely. Pin a post - if you write a post with important information or you find a particularly good post from a learner which you think should be displayed more prominently, you can pin it so it remains at the top of the discussions.
  • Pinning a post is a valuable tool to draw attention to the most important information or most interesting discussion topics
  • A pinned post is visible to all learners no matter which session they are in.
  • Pinned posts remain at the top of the discussion forums
  • Pin your own best threads but also look for stimulating threads which are popular or which should be surfaced
  • Try to avoid pinning too many threads, or leaving them pinned for too long, as they will become less noticeable.

Resolving questions you can't answer

  • Help learners to find answers by themselves by directing them to the Learning Help Center (LHC). The LHC contains articles which have been written by our support team to cover common problems. If the articles do not help them, they can post in our Community Support Forum to get help from their peers. Please make sure learners are aware that Coursera staff does not monitor these forums on a regular basis. If the learner still needs help, certain articles have a link at the bottom which the learner can use live chat or send an email to our support team. The learner does need to reach out to our support team directly, you can't act as a go-between for them. This is because our support team will likely need to ask the learner for extra information to help resolve the problem.
  • Report issues on behalf of multiple learners with the same problem If multiple learners are experiencing the same problem. Coursera support team will know you are a Mentor and that you represent multiple learners and they have been trained to escalate your reports if they are unable to handle them themselves.
  • If there are questions about the course. These can take 2 different forms. First, If there is a problem with the course content (it is incorrect or out of date, for example) you can report this to our support team. Our team will reach out to the instructor and recommend that they make changes. Ultimately it is up to the instructor if they decide to make changes or not. If the learner has a really advanced question about the course materials themselves you can take a few different approaches. It's perfectly OK to admit that you don't know the answer to a question, this is far better than writing something incorrect, vague or confusing. If you are in touch with the instructor you can also ask them the question. Finally, if you have time and the inclination to do some research you can take to the internet and see if you can find anything online to answer the question. I recommend providing a link to the article rather than writing the information as your own, since it may be inaccurate or biased.
  • If you aren't sure what the best way is to get help for a learner, just ask in the Mentor Portal. Other Mentors will be happy to help you out.

Online Communication Best Practices

  • Include exclamation marks and emoticons to express as much positive emotion as possible, but do not over use them.
  • If you make jokes or sarcastic comments you need to make it extremely clear that you are intending to be funny. Smiley or winky emoticons are a good way to do that but try to avoid overuse of emojis :) ;) :D (Remember cultural sensitiveness)
  • Write in a conversational tone and include as much context as possible. Avoid being too blunt, try to always include at least one positive statement.
  • Read through your posts before submitting, and think how they could be perceived by others who don’t know what you’re thinking.
  • Use Calm, rational responses. If something has upset you take a break, if you still feel a resurgence of emotions when you come back to a thread, leave it. Wait for another mentor to respond. And last but not least, don't take things personally.
  • Remember to use editing etiquette.If you've only just published a post you are pretty safe to edit it in any way you choose but after it's been up a while and a few people have seen it you should be more careful. After people have seen the post you can still make changes, especially for minor things like spelling or grammar errors. If you do change the content it can be helpful to leave a note at the bottom to indicated the changes you made. After people have responded to the post you should be careful about how much you change it. Minor changes are still fine but content changes might render the responses confusing or even nonsensical. It's better not to make changes at all but if you do feel a strong need then definitely add a note explaining what you changed. Even if your original post caused unintentional offense you should be wary of how much you alter it. When you edit, leave a note to apologize and explain why you edited.

To encourage high engagement with lots of questions and answers:

  • Thank students for their questions so they feel valued for posting.
  • Allow time for students to answer each other before diving in yourself. If questions are urgent or no one else has replied after 24 hours then go ahead and respond.
  • Finish your post with another question to keep the discussion going. For example, “What does everyone else think about this?”
  • Wait until a good discussion has fallen silent and then respond to it to bring it back to the top of the forums and revive the discussion.

To encourage high quality, useful, relevant questions and answers:

  • Give learners gentle feedback on the quality of their posts and report serious problems (spam or abuse) to Coursera.
  • Regularly post top-quality threads, asking questions to provoke in-depth thinking and discussion.
  • Up-vote good threads and encourage learners to do the same. Up-voting can be used as a way to recognize a learner for posting a good thread, without actually commenting on it. It's also great as a way to draw attention to particularly good threads.

Gently Nudge Learners away from Behaviors like these:

  • Writing in all-capitals - let learners know this is considered the online equivalent of shouting.
  • *Posting in a language different to the rest of the forums for the course - remind learners this is excluding many others from joining in.
  • Posting in the wrong place - let learners know this causes confusion and will result in fewer responses.
  • Sharing the exact answers to assignments - discussions are fine but just sharing the exact answers is not.
  • Using incomplete or misleading titles - let learners know other learners are much more likely to click and comment on threads if they have relevant titles.
  • Sharing personal information - remind learners this isn’t safe and there are other ways to stay in touch.
  • Correcting one another insensitively - remind learners it is important to make everyone feel welcome and valued for posting.

Responding to Complains and Negative Feedback

  • Learners are entitled to share any concerns, complaints or suggestions they have about the course or Coursera. You should not feel, as a Mentor, that it is your responsibility to defend Coursera, the course team or the institution behind the course.
  • Thank learners for sharing the feedback. Direct them to the Help Center if there is a specific problem to be solved or let them know you will forward their feedback if it is more general.
  • If you disagree with them, as a Mentor you still need to let them know that their concern is valid and has been heard. You can add your own opinion separately as well if you wish.

Recognizing Problematic Posts & Learners

  • It's a good idea to be familiar with our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct so you can use them to guide your own interactions and to judge others.
  • Some type of problematic posts&learners may include: Trolls are people who are deliberately trying to incite anger and get a reaction. They generally do not hold the viewpoints they express, they merely pick the most controversial standpoint they can find because they know that is most likely to get a response. In some cases a troll will try out multiple opinions to see which garners the strongest reaction. The best way to deal with a troll is to ignore them. Of course, it's not always clear from the start if the person is a troll or an activist, so a good starting point is to remind them of the code of conduct, ask them to express their opinions politely, and ask them to provide evidence to back up their claims. You may have to edit or delete a troll post if it is attacking or contains obscenities, but censorship often encourages trolls to post more frequently and find additional channels in which to post. Activists and trolls can seem very similar but they key difference is that activists do hold very strongly to the viewpoints they express. Although they are trying to get a reaction, they are actually trying to change others' opinions, not merely get a reaction for reaction's sake. The best way to deal with an activist is to always respond calmly and rationally. Remind them of the code of conduct and request that they express themselves calmly and politely as well. Similar to a troll post, you may have to edit or delete an activist's post to bring it into line with the code of conduct. Again, use this power sparingly as it is likely to cause offense and inflame the situation. Refer to the code of conduct wherever possible to make sure your actions do not come across as a personal attack. Spam can take a variety of forms. It can be nonsensical or irrelevant or just repetitive posting of the same thing. Sometimes it is an attempt to promote an external site or project. In all cases it is annoying and does not add anything to the discussion. Generally it is best to ask the learner to stop, and refer to the code of conduct. In most cases you can also delete the posts without too much concern about inflaming the situation, but do still exercise caution. If the learner continues to spam after a warning, feel free to delete any spam posts made after that time. Religious Posts can take two different forms. If religion is not relevant to the course in any way, treat religious posts as off-topic posts or activist posts. Religious opinions as they relate to course materials are completely fine, and welcome. The problem arises when a learner doesn't accept that the religious view isn't the only view, or when learners attack one another on the basis of religious views. In the first case, remind learners that everyone should look at all of the evidence available and then use it to come to their own conclusions. In the second case the best thing to do is to remind learners of the code of conduct and that they must avoid personal attacks entirely. Off-topic posts and threads are pretty benign by comparison with the other types on this list. Off-topic responses can derail a good conversation but off-topic threads are unlikely to cause harm. Sometimes a learner might start a completely new thread that isn't related to the course. As long as the thread could be considered suitable for the Coursera audience (very wide definition including most social interactions) and adhering to our Code of Conduct, this is fine. Just make sure the thread is in the "General Discussions" forum and monitor it to make sure it stays appropriate.
  • Discussing quiz answers can be a very tricky situation. Sometimes learners will ask you directly for answers, other times they will share them with one another. These are a few possible ways to handle situations like this: Delete or edit any posts which share the exact answers and remind learners of the code of conduct. Encourage learners to provide help in less direct ways. Direct learners to the correct part in the course materials to find the correct answer. Re-frame the question in a different way so as to help the learner better understand what it is asking. This can be especially helpful for learners taking a course in a language other than their native tongue. Provide general information relating to the answer without directly giving the answer itself. Provide an external link to some materials which might help the learner gain a different perspective on the answer or question. In some courses (such as programming assignments) you can hit a point after which there is no help you can provide other than the correct answer itself. If you think the learner is genuinely stuck and not just being lazy you can post the answer and then delete the post as soon as the learner has seen it.

Guiding Learners Behavior

  • If you need to correct a learner’s behavior it can be tricky to work out how to phrase your response, especially since it will be publicly viewable to all learners. Use these steps as a guide:
  • Thank them for contributing to the discussion
  • Gently explain why what they did might negatively affect other learners or themselves
  • (If applicable) mention and explain any edits you made to their original post
  • Express some positive sentiment or encouragement

All content developed by Coursera Mentor Training Community for Coursera Mentor training Course. The material is to be used as a personal reference. Maria Barreto.

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